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Bloodstains, Paintings, and Drugs: Raman Spectroscopy Applications in Forensic Science

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2018
23 pages
This article reviews recent developments in Raman spectroscopy in forensic science, particularly in the areas of chemometrics, controlled substances, toxicology, counterfeit pharmaceuticals, explosives, gunshot residue, hair, fibers, paints, lipstick and nail polish, body fluids, forensic anthropology, and document examination.
Raman spectroscopy has proven to be an invaluable method of analysis for the forensic investigator, as it has been applied to a wide range of evidence types. This article describes Raman spectroscopy as “a vibrational spectroscopy technique concerned with the inelastic scattering stemming from rotational and vibrational transitions occurring within a molecular structure,” The key concept in Raman spectroscopy is that electromagnetic radiation can be scattered in two manners, i.e., elastically and inelastically. When the scattering results in photons possessing energy equal to that of the incident radiation source, this is termed as elastic or Rayleigh scattering. When the scattering results in phtons that have higher or lower energeices than the excitation sources, this is termed as inelastic or Raman scattering. This article focuses on literature published since this journal’s recent reviews in 2015 and 2016. The topics discussed in the current article were selected because of their relevance to the forensic science community. References to reviews and other literature related to the specific disciplines addressed have been included in order to provide readers with further resources. The overall conclusion of this review is that Raman spectroscopy in forensic science is sizable and strong. In the future, new and unprecedented types of evidence are likely to present themselves as candidates for analysis with Raman spectroscopy. 5 figures and 205 references
Date Published: May 1, 2018